Storm day sector plate

Today’s project was the sector plate for the layout and I’ve managed to make some progress that I’d like to share.

The sector plate itself and its base are cut from some 1/2″ particle core that I had here. I’m still not sure if I made the right decision with regard to material but am equally tired of comparing options. I don’t think I’ll regret the choice of this material for the deck the plate will ride on. Where I remain concerned is how much the plate itself will warp over time. Given the size and shape of the sector plate I doubted that any of my reasonably-priced options would fare any better or worse in terms of dimensional stability, over time, and frankly if it gets too bad I’ll just make up a new bridge and try something else. So, on with the show.

The first task was to figure out where the pivot point was and get the pivot itself sorted. I sketched and daydreamed about a lot of neat bearing options but settled on a simple length of brass rod I had. This is the second design decision I expect to come back to in time since I’m still thinking I might want to make the plate removable so that the I could use it staging cassettes (pivoted like a sector plate). To make it easier to exchange cassettes I’ll need to make it both easy and reliable to locate this pin when exchanging cassettes full of stock. For now, this will do fine.

DSC01594Most of the ties on the sector plate are the same plain ties I’ll use on the layout. For a little more strength and since the plate itself will remain mostly hidden from view I thought I’d make up some wider ties for each end. Nice to use up some of that PC board scrap I’ve been hoarding in my “that’ll be useful someday” pile.

DSC01596I used CA to glue the ties to the sector plate. While that set up I carved out a piece of an apple coffee cake I’d made last night. Brewed a nice Americano for myself too.

DSC01605With me stuffed full of cake and coffee and the CA nicely set, it’s time to warm up my soldering iron and fit the rails in place. Not only was this a great project to use up some PC board scrap but also a great opportunity to use up some scrap rail salvaged from a layout I’d taken apart before. I hadn’t realised when I grabbed the second piece of rail that the bag I was keeping these pieces in was a mix of code 40 and 55 rail. It wasn’t until I soldered the full second piece in that I’d noticed it was code 55. Luckily I was able to pull that out and replace with code 40 without burning any ties along the way.

DSC01608The temptation to set up a train on the finished sector plate was almost too great. I still can’t decide if what I staged represents a short train of reefers from Charlottetown with some set-outs for here and the further east or if this represents a set of GP’s and some boxcars from Nanaimo with local setouts for Victoria Plywood. I’m leaning toward the latter.

All in all, it’s been great fun working on this project this afternoon. It’s still cold outside and this project was a nice break from shovelling the last of the latest storm’s snowfall. With the sector plate at this stage, I now have a means of determining the final location of the main line and the storage track (both are fed from the sector plate) so I can start placing ties and getting on with track on the main layout.



  1. I think you should stick with PEI! There are enough people already modelling the E&N, and it’s clear that you are inspired by your local scene.

    Is there enough room against the wall to allow a two-track sector plate to swing? I think it would be worth it.

    1. Great feedback. Thank you.

      I’ve thought about an extra road on the sector plate itself. I don’t need the extra staging for trains but could use it for cars, representing car spots just offstage but serviced from this town. My problem is that I can’t fit the wider plate in terms of swing – there’s just not enough room in front of the main track to fit in the extra width. I can still fit a track behind the layout’s scenic area that would be reached from the sector plate. That might still work to the same effect.

      As for prototype, I’ve been trying to start to reply to your comment. I really want to share some of the “why” behind it all and where I find an attraction to the E&N. Leave it with me, I want to share some of that to explain it all.

      Thank you. Great comment.


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